Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Outside Challenge Week: Day 6- Centennial Trail

Getting out today was a challenge. By the time Josh and I arrived home we had both passed through brief periods of snow. The wind was roaring and the temperature was in the 20 with wind chill. After the glimpse of summer this past week it was difficult to get ourselves outside to enjoy some open sky time with our family.

Once we were packed up and Wu had literally been wrangled we headed over towards Bear Butte State Park. We picked up the Centennial Trail at Bear Butte Lake.

The moment we opened the doors it was apparent that we should have headed into the hills. The wind pushing across the prairie was fast and cold.

On the Centennial Trail. 4.30.13
Eli was bundled up and snuggled under a few blankets. Then over the top of his stroller was a clear jacket that blocks wind and rain. Josh, Eli, Wu, and myself set out on an adventure.

We went as far as we could before the cold set in and the wind carried our high spirits away. On the way Wu did manage to jump a Gold Eagle. It circled above us and I'm sure it was contemplating the cost/benefit of going after Wu.

It wasn't too long before we were worried that Eli was getting cold. When we returned to the jeep Josh reached under the wind jacket and it was warm and still. Our baby was just fine.

We on the other hand we wind blown and exhausted. It didn't turn out to be the outing we were expecting but it was still a success.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Outside Challenge Week: Day 5- Spearfish Creek & DC Booth

  Today marks the fifth straight day that we have made it outside for an adventure! We once again headed to the Spearfish City Park for a walk.

  We started out heading in the opposite direction of where we went earlier in the week. Eli was getting very tired on the way in, but once we got him into his stroller he was wide awake. Wu was just as crazy as ever.

  The path ended up following Spearfish Creek most of the time and took us through a few of the other city parks. At one point the path goes under one of the main roads. It runs almost eye level with the creek and something about it was spectacular to me.

Before I could get too caught up in the awesomeness that was the path, Wu decided to jump right in the water. He'd had enough and his crazy just took over. There he was, still on the leash being swept down the creek and here I am holding on to the other end. Well, needless to say I go taking off along side him trying to keep the line from getting caught in creekside vegetation. After a little bit I just decided to yank the line over and guide him towards the shore so I could grab him, but once he got to shore he just climbed on out and jumped right at me. Because the path goes under the road it is actually lower than the creek and when Wu jumped he ensured that I would be covered in most of the cold snowmelt water that had sunk into his thick fur. He hit my leg and trotted off like this was no big deal..... Then he jumped in and did it again..... and again.

  A little further up the path sticking out of the opposite bank was a car. Just sitting there sideways exposed by the erosion. It almost looked like it was placed there intentionally, but I couldn't tell for sure. Nothing surprises me in the Hills anymore.

  We made it about a half mile further and wound our way back in the direction of the jeep. On our way back we saw a guy Kayaking down the creek. Eli thought this was awesome. He just stared at the guy and didn't move. When he looked up at me he had a big smile on his face. We also saw a fly fisherman who looked like he was having the time of his life.

  We ended up walking pass the jeep and touring the DC Booth Fish Hatchery again. It was nice to see how they were adding more paths and see all the giant trout. By the time we reached the jeep we were exhausted. Eli and Wu? Not so much. Eli was laughing the whole way to the jeep and talking and babbling at us. Wu was just full of energy still and wouldn't shut up about it.

  The day was a huge success in my books. I have really enjoyed spending this time with my family. I cant wait for our next adventure. I am a lucky man.

Outside Challenge Week: Day 4- Stratobowl, Cubfest and the Outdoor Campus

Today has been a very exciting day! We've had Cubfest, at Bear Country USA in our sites for a few years now. With our impending move we thought that it was about time we checked it out.

By 9:30 AM we were in Rapid City. Somehow we managed to get ahead of schedule and so we used the extra time to check out the rim of the Stratobowl, a historic location for the launch of hot air balloons.

We didn't really intend to hike the distance in. In fact, we only wanted to let Wu run a minute to get some of his crazy out. But the trail was too perfect and we wanted to see what was around the next corner. It was incredibly windy but thankfully most of the hike was in the woods. We ended up looking down on the Stratobowl. It was an awesome sight.

By 10:30 AM we were parking at Bear Country USA. There was a weekend long event that lets the public get up close and personal with little bear cubs. Who doesn't want to get their paws on a cub?

With perfect strolling weather we explored. Eli got to see two huge bears relaxing and playing in a pond. He really enjoyed that. Then he saw his first burro and ponies. He got his face painted- a mustache. But the most fun of all was had when he loved on the bear cubs. After waiting in line he was getting a little fussy until he saw the cubs ahead. Then it was eyes and ears forward and he was on the prowl. He had a bit of a run in with one of the cubs when it opened its mouth just as he stuck his hand towards it. It was adorable.

By 1 PM we were at the Outdoor Campus walking the trails that weave through their acreage. Wu got to go swimming and we enjoyed the quiet. We headed inside to explore and Eli was so excited. He let everyone know how much he liked the aquarium. Then he finally went through a 6 ft. tunnel that he's been too shy to do on our previous trips. We were so proud.

By 2:45 we were home just in time to get out of the rain storm that popped up. Eli napped the day off, wiping most of his mustache with it and we relaxed. It was a beautiful and exhausting day!

It must have been the mustache! At The Outdoor Campus, 4.27.13

Outside Challenge Week: Day 3- Whitewood City Park

Another hectic day! Eli and I spent the morning hiking over in Wyoming at Ranch A with a set of friends. After a long nap we were ready to hit the street with Josh when he got home.

After wheeling up (our new term for getting Eli in the stroller!) we headed to the Whitewood Park. It's a few blocks away and has a playground. We were looking specifically for toddler swings. And we found them.

Eli hadn't been on a true swing set yet so we fixed that. I'm not sure he really enjoyed the experience. He seemed very serious and not very relaxed so we tried a few runs on a small slide. He liked that quite a bit. So we moved up to a bigger slide. He and I rode to the bottom and Josh caught us. I had forgotten how much I love slides!

Of course we had brought Wu. He was being a good dog just hanging out while he was waiting for us looking forward to the walk home.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Outside Challenge Week: Day 2- Spearfish City Park

This last week we challenged ourselves to get outside each day for an adventure. Even if we were working all day or exhausted, we got out as a family to have some fun! Here is a little about Day 2!

Josh and I had both been feverishly busy all day. We pulled into the driveway within just a few minutes of each other. Ten minutes later had the jeep packed up (stroller, water and Wu) and were on our way. Since it was later in the afternoon we went to the Spearfish City Park.

We parked just north of DC Booth Hatchery and walked the bike path along the dried creek bed into the mouth of Spearfish Canyon. There were quite a few people out enjoying the path with their friends and pets. We walked for a couple hours taking in the sunshine and ended up at a new bridge that connects Spearfish Canyon to the City Park.

 Wu headed into the creek whenever there was water. Eli was wide awake and sweet the whole time. When Josh and I weren't wrangling one or the other we were soaking up the warm weather!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Outside Challenge Week: Day 1 - Alkali Creek Trail

With 70 degree weather finally here, we decided to take a late afternoon hike. We headed over to Ft. Meade Recreational Area in Sturgis and played on the Alkali Creek Trail.

There was a more snow than we were expecting (which was none) but we hiked through it like champs. The sun was shining so brightly and the air was almost muggy from the evaporating snow.

Wu broke trail and even though that used a lot of energy it didn't seem to slow him down. Josh carried Eli on his back. Eli tried out his new Julbo sunglasses which he wore the entire hike, along with his hat! I took pictures and tried to stay on my feet.

At the half way mark we found a place to sit and relax. It was our first hike that we've been able to put Eli on dry ground to appreciate the sticks, pine cones and needles, and leaves. He would pick up something, eye it, show Josh and then show me. If it was small enough, he would try to eat it. Our boy is getting to smart!

We aren't sure if we were even on the Alkali Creek Trail. It was a little confusing without footprints to lead us through but we managed to loop back to where the Jeep was parked. It wasn't the longest hike but a good hike doesn't have to be a marathon. In the end, we were all happy hikers!

Here are a few pictures from the day!

amanda4684's Eli album on Photobucket

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Spring Exploration of Devil's Bathtub

With the end of a long weekend upon us, we felt the urge to get outside one more time. We cruised over to Spearfish Canyon and hiked into Devils Bathtub. It's a favorite hike of ours and that we've only done in the summer (directions on how to get there can be found here).

All winter long I've been worried about the condition of the trail and especially the stream crossing but apparently that was all for naught. The snow was packed and the crossings were solid (mostly). It seems that winter had spring just begun their yearly battle for the area.

Wu led the way most of the journey. For about 5 steps, Josh was actually ahead of him. I think that's a record. He would run into the stream, then out to roll in the snow and race on. I can't count how many times he actually did that. He was happy to be out on an adventure, especially one that let him swim.

Josh carried Eli on his back. They were both pleased to be out on the trail. Eli gets really calm in his carry pack. A few times he started smacking his lips and he was very interested in touching the rocks and tree bark. He would reach his arm out and we'd stop, pull of his mitten and let him explore. It's the most amazing feeling watching him learn while enjoying nature. We hope that these moments build the foundation for a lifelong love of nature. They certainly bring us together as a family.

When we reached Devils Bathtub we didn't dare to traverse further. The trail was steeper, slicker, and narrower. A bad combination. We took a few moments to take it all in and decided it was the perfect day for our little escape. The sky was blue and the sun warm. We were out enjoying the Black Hills as a family. It doesn't get better than that.

On the way back, the trail was a little more treacherous. The creek crossings were melting and breaking up in a few places. Where the trail was ice was quickly becoming slushy ice. By the time we reached the car, Eli was asleep, Wu was soaked, and we were a couple of happy parents.